Community update – Somerset Levels Flooding

Friday 28 March 2014

***Latest news***

For latest weather forecasts, visit the Met Office http://www.metoffice.gov.uk
For flood warnings, visit http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call 0345 988 1188.

Dredging update
The Environment Agency is due to start dredging the River Parrett from Monday. Dredging will start at Moorland House Farm with a long reach excavator.

This is one of the key elements of the 20-year action plan to reduce flood risk for the Somerset Levels and Moors, so there is likely to be a lot of media interest.

Specific events, to allow the media, local councillors and partners to visit the site and understand how the work is going to go ahead, have been organised. And the EA is doing as much as possible to manage this to minimise the impact on the local community but apologise in advance for any disruption that may occur.

Levels and Moors
Work starts in and around Moorland on Monday to repair roads and clear gullies. Road repair works are due to last for two days in Moorland, on the road from Huntworth and the road to Burrowbridge. Once work starts the crews will be unable to move until the various phases of the work are complete, so there may be some delays.

The whole of the village drainage system will also be jetted. This again will take time at each location, so delays may be possible.

Sedgemoor cuts red tape for flooding victims
With more and more residents now gaining access to their homes, Sedgemoor District Council is trying to minimise red tape so that residents can quickly get the help and advice they need about any planning permissions needed to repair, renew or rebuild their homes.

The District Council has already received a number of enquiries about planning permission for mobile homes in gardens of flood affected properties, and has and put in place a simple notification process, which avoids the needs for affected residents to make more complex planning applications. They also have a designated planning officer, Colin Arnold, who will be your first point of contact if you need planning related advice or assistance. To contact him, phone (01278) 435288 or email colin.arnold@sedgemoor.gov.uk.

Canalside Flood Assistance Centre Meetings
All the support that has been available at the Canalside Flood drop-in meetings and the Flood Assistance Centre are now being brought together into a single event.
The Canalside Flood Assistance Centre meetings will run every Wednesday from 5.30pm until 8pm. All the relevant agencies involved in flood recovery will continue to attend, including Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council, South Somerset District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Environment Agency.

The meetings are a chance for people who have been affected by the flooding to meet and talk, and access a variety of agencies, which can offer advice and assistance regarding the aftermath of flooding, covering everything from insurance and grants to emotional support.
Advice and assistance will be available from 5.30pm, with agencies available to answer any questions from 6pm.

***General Advice and Support***

This advice and information is for people returning to flood affected homes and areas. More detailed information is available direct from the contacts at the end of this leaflet.

Your Safety and Health

General advice
• Don’t turn on gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified technician.
• Ensure good ventilation if using portable indoor heating appliances to dry out indoor spaces. Don’t use petrol or diesel generators indoors – exhaust gases can kill.
• Keep children and the vulnerable out of any remaining flood water and avoid walking or driving through it where possible.
• Contact friends and family for support. Feeling tired, anxious and having problems sleeping is normal after being flooded.

Food and water
• Phone your water company or local council to ask if your water is safe to drink/wash in.
• Drink boiled or bottled water until you have thoroughly washed and flushed all taps – 15 minutes for kitchen tap, 2 minutes for all others.
• Contact Wessex Water (0845 6004600) if you are concerned about the taste of your water, think pipe work has been damaged or are concerned your supply may be contaminated by oil.
• Don’t eat food that has touched floodwater.
• Wash your hands regularly in clean warm water with soap or hand gel.

Mould
It doesn’t present any health problems to most people, but prolonged exposure may aggravate asthma and eye/nose irritation. Speak to your GP if you have concerns.
Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home and control mould. Small areas of mould can be removed easily with solutions from hardware stores.

Health FAQs
For more information about flood-related topics, such as preparing food safely, washing and drinking water safely, visit http://www.hpa.org.uk.
You can also call 111 or your GP for advice in the normal way. In a medical emergency you should still dial 999.

Pets
The risk of disease to pets and livestock from floodwater is low. Minimise it by:
• Stopping your pets from going into any areas affected by sewage spill.
• Cleaning-up any obvious contamination and take hygiene precautions.
• Seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible if pets show any signs of ill health.

Cleaning up

Insurance
• Call your insurance company as soon as possible and follow their advice.
• Take photographs before you start cleaning. Ask your insurer before discarding items that can’t be cleaned (e.g. mattresses and carpets).
• Check with your insurance company before removing flood-damaged items from your home in case they need to be retained or recorded.
• Your insurance should arrange or pay for removal of all flood-damaged items (e.g. with skips); do not dispose of them in your kerbside refuse bin.

Practical tips
• Wear rubber boots, gloves and masks to clean up. Wash clothes used for cleaning separately.
• Clean all hard surfaces (e.g. walls, floors) with hot water and detergent.
• Wash your hands thoroughly after each clean-up session. Keep open cuts or wounds clean and covered with plasters to prevent them from being exposed to flood water.
• Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home.
• Wash soft items (e.g. clothing, bedding, soft toys) on a 60◦c wash with detergent.
• Put rubbish in bins or in rubbish bags.

Clear-out assistance
If, after speaking to your insurance company you need further help, contact your district council. If appropriate volunteers may be able to help you clear up and remove waste for disposal or recycling.

Refuse and recycling collections
All waste collections in flood-affected areas are back to usual on their usual days. For details, visit the Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) website www.somersetwaste.gov.uk.
If your collection is missed, your property is inaccessible or you need to replace containers let SWP know by contacting your district council.

Waste removal services
If you are arranging waste removal, whether funded yourself or by insurers, please avoid rogue clear-up and removal services that will fly-tip your waste. Ask to see a ‘waste carrier licence’ or call 03708 506 506 to check.

Businesses affected by floods needing waste removed should check with their insurers first and use commercial waste services.

Asbestos
You must assess the likelihood of asbestos being in your property before carrying out refurbishment work. For insured properties, the loss adjuster and any subsequent builder can make arrangements for an assessment to be made if necessary.
For uninsured properties, Somerset County Council’s Asbestos Team (01823 355195) can make a visual assessment and advise.

For details of where and how to dispose of asbestos, visit the SWP website. Asbestos and products that are likely to contain it, such as storage heaters, require special handling. Seven recycling centres can accept this waste, but must be called in advance. SWP also offers a paid-for asbestos collection service.

Nothing that could be asbestos or may contain it should be placed in refuse bins, or skips without checking in advance with the skip provider.

Financial and other support

Welfare, benefits and Environmental Health information
District councils can give you help and advice around:
• Temporarily homelessness, housing benefits, and business rates relief.
• Council Tax reduction for the time your property is uninhabited because of flooding.
• Environmental Health services, such as dealing with septic tanks.

Grants
A grant of £250 is available to alleviate the immediate financial hardship for people with flooded homes or who have been evacuated due to flooding. Grants of £150 – £1,000 may also be awarded to households directly and indirectly affected by the floods. Contact Somerset Community Foundation on (01749) 344949 or download the application form from www.somersetcf.org.uk

Donations
Donations, from food and toiletries, to clothes and bedding, are being kept in the old Somerfield distribution centre at Huntworth Business Park, near Junction 24 in Bridgwater. It’s open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10am until 3pm if you’ve been affected and need supplies. Please bring ID with you just so that we can confirm your address.

Crime prevention advice and help
All the agencies and volunteers working in the flood affected area should have ID so please ask to see it if you have any concerns.

Police continue to have a significant presence in the flood-affected area, and you are encouraged to take the usual precautions: register your property on www.immobilise.com, don’t leave drying items outside your house when you are not there, always lock doors and windows when leaving your property, don’t leave packaging for new goods outside your home, keep valuable items like copper piping and tools somewhere out of site.

Information Points
Information and support is available from various places (details may change in the coming weeks so please try and check before visiting).

• Weekly flood drop-in meetings at the Canalside Conference Centre, from 6-8pm where you will find representatives from all the main agencies involved offering advice and practical support.
• Sedgemoor District Council is in a portakabin outside Moorland Village Hall, 10am-4pm, seven days a week to answer queries, provide help or signpost in the right direction.
• Police Community Contact Vehicles (mobile police stations) in Burrowbridge and Moorland.
• Langport Information Centre, Bow Street. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 2pm, for help with South Somerset District Council services. Phone 01458 253527.
• Burrowbridge old school building. Run by County Council staff and FLAG volunteers Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm, offering support including clean-up equipment, laundry facilities and internet access. Advisors from the Taunton Citizens Advice Bureau available on Monday and Friday from 10am to 3pm and on Wednesdays from 1pm to 6pm. Taunton Deane Borough Council officers will be there on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am–4pm.

Village Agents:
Community Council for Somerset has Village Agents offering advice and support:
• Alison Hoare: AHoareva@somersetrcc.org.uk 07798 703321. Moorland area.
• Audrey Mansfield: AMansfieldva@somersetrcc.org.uk 07870 577925. Creech St Michael and surrounding area including Stoke St Gregory and Burrowbridge.
• Carolyn Roche: CRocheva@somersetrcc.org.uk 07968 521746. Muchelney area.

Useful contact numbers

All flooding enquiries
The starting point for people seeking information about flood related issues is Somerset County Council’s Somerset Direct number 0845 345 9166, staffed Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, and on Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.
Where possible, Somerset Direct will provide the information itself, and where necessary it will sign-post callers to the most appropriate agency or contact number.

Local Volunteer Support – Visit the Flooding on the Levels Action Group – FLAGSomerset – on Facebook or contact via the Burrowbridge information centre on 01823 698300

Police – 101 for general calls and 999 for emergency calls.
e-mail: floodinginsomerset@avonandsomerset.police.uk or use the form on the Police website.

Environment Agency Floodline – 0345 9881188

Helpline
For independent advice on all aspects of flooding, including insurance issues, phone the National Flood Forum Helpline on (01299) 403055 or visit www.floodforum.org.uk

Local Councils:
• Sedgemoor District Council:
Tel: 0845 408 2540 or 01278 435435. Outside of office hours: 0800 917 6520.
Email: customer.services@sedgemoor.gov.uk, website: www.sedgemoor.gov.uk
• South Somerset District Council:
Tel: 01935 462462 with an out of hours service for emergencies.
Email: info@southsomerset.gov.uk, website: www.southsomerset.gov.uk
• Taunton Deane Borough Council:
Tel: 01823 356356 with an out of hours service for emergencies.
Email: enquiries@tauntondeane.gov.uk, website: www.tauntondeane.gov.uk
• Somerset County Council:
Roads and Transport 0845 345 9155
Adult Social Care 0845 345 9133
General Enquiries 0845 345 9166

Electricity
Western Power Distribution: 0800 365 900, website: www.westernpower.co.uk
EDF Energy: 0800 056 3264 (8am – 6pm)

Gas
Emergency – National Grid: 0800 111 999.
General enquiries – National Grid: 0845 835 1111, website: www.nationalgrid.com/uk

National Farmers Union
Email: south.west@nfu.org.uk, website www.nfuonline.co.uk

Health and wellbeing
24 hour health care advice – NHS Direct 111
Mindline – 01823 276892 Line open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 8pm-12am
Samaritans – Taunton 01823 288 998 (24hr); Yeovil 01935 476455
Somerset Carers Network – 01749 836 633